Art/Art History Courses

* A non-refundable lab fee is required



One unit. Introduction to Studio exposes students to contemporary studio art practice. Student will develop basic drawing skills and basic color and design skills that will help form a foundation for further work in all the arts including painting, printmaking, graphic design, and advanced drawing. Students will learn about the processes and disciplines of different media and gain experience with a variety of art materials and their unique qualities. Students will also be exposed to a variety of visual art in class and on field trips that may include visits to museums, galleries, and artist studios. Students will complete art projects in response to these experiences, either by using similar materials or themes or processes. Offered every year.

One unit. The development of skills in the representation of objects and the figure in terms of line, space, composition, and value. Emphasis is placed on basic drawing techniques and interpretative qualities of various media. Offered every semester.

One unit. A studio course which introduces the techniques of pottery, including hand-built constructions and forms thrown on the potter’s wheel. Experience with glaze preparation and kiln firing. Offered every year.

One unit. Fundamental techniques and principles of 35mm film photography. Craft (camera know-how, film developing,  and printing) and content (what to put on film) and their relationships in visual communication. Weekly Lab work is required outside of class period.  Students will be provided with a “starter kit” of film and paper, but camera (manually operated 35mm film camera with a fixed lens of 50mm) is responsibility of the student. Offered every semester.

One unit. An introduction to the basic techniques and aesthetics of digital photography including cameras, tools, printing and digital imaging.

One unit. This course incorporates the experiences of seeing art in New York City with making art inspired or based on these experiences. Students will visit or attend a variety of art venues in New York City that may include galleries and museums, art fairs, outdoor installations and street art, lectures and events, and artist studios. The work we see in and out of class will primarily be contemporary art. Students will have a chance to speak with artists and gallery directors. In-class projects will be created based on materials, techniques, and themes we encounter. This class offers a mix of art appreciation, business side of art, studio art and readings in contemporary art. Prerequisites: one other studio art class or permission of the instructor. Please note that you will need to allow extra time for travel to and from the city on many occasions. Offered every year.

One unit. Graphic design occupies an expanding and ever-evolving territory at the intersection of verbal and visual language. Its media spans everything from websites to postcards, film to signage, typefaces to billboards, networks to systems. This course will teach you the fundamental principles of graphic design: image making, typography, composition, working with color and shape. Offered every semester.

One unit. The course introduces students to the working in three dimensions. A variety of media may be utilized. Offered fall semester.

One unit. The production of studies and finished drawings of the human figure using a wide range of media and techniques. Prerequisite: AR 105 or permission of the instructor. Offered every year.

One unit. A continuation of Ceramics I with a concentration on wheel-thrown forms and ceramic sculpture. Prerequisite: AR 106. Offered as required.

One unit. Learn the basics of oil painting through the process of learning to see more specifically. Study color relationships, observe formal and spatial dynamics, develop your drawing skills and learn to express light. You may paint all or some of the following: still-lives, the live nude model, landscape, and self-portraiture. This course will include field trips to museums and galleries in New York City as well as examples of both contemporary and historical painters in class. Prerequisite: AR105 Drawing 1 or permission of the instructor. Offered every year.

One unit. Major emphasis on the intaglio and woodcut processes, etching, engraving, dry point, aquatint, and mezzotint. Collograph and monotype, as well as other techniques are explored. Prerequisite: AR 105 or permission of instructor. Offered every year.

One unit. A continuation of Photography I. Explores more sophisticated techniques and methods. A traditional 35mm, manually operated camera is required. Prerequisite: AR 114. Offered as required.

One unit. Make, see and experience art all involving the theme of animals. Students will draw directly from taxidermized animals at Wagner and at the Natural History museum, as well as live animals at zoos and the aquarium. (We may even draw pot-bellied pigs one afternoon in Pennsylvania!) From these life studies students will create specific projects in and out of class. We will use a variety of materials and techniques to explore how animals are presented in art and for what purpose. We will visit a variety of art venues in New York City to see ways artists have used animal imagery. We will examine political art that engages ideas of animal rights, and art that uses animal imagery as metaphors for human emotions. The course includes a research project on an artist who focuses their work on animals. Please be aware that this course involves extra travel time to and from the city on many occasions. Prerequisite: one other studio art class (preferably Drawing I) or permission of the instructor. Offered every other spring.

One unit. This course introduces students to contemporary thought and practice in the making, exhibiting and marketing of visual art. The display of art throughout history and its relation to and impact on society will be investigated. Through essays, class discussions and field trips to local galleries, museums and auction houses, students will explore the importance of context and presentation in how works of art are perceived by the public. Students will design and install an exhibit in the Wagner College Gallery. This course is ideal for any student interested in visual culture, the arts, history, or marketing. Offered as required.

One unit. This course is geared towards experimentation, focusing on various illustration assignments (comic books, children’s books, editorial illustration, etc.) that will challenge you and help you focus on articulating your artistic voice. The illustration world is expanding and artists no longer have to work in one particular market or genre. The goal of this class will be to discover your personal voice as an artist and develop your personal brand.Prerequisite: AR105 or permission of the instructor. Taught every other year.

One unit.  This class is part art theory, part studio practice, and culminates in the fabrication and installation of a temporary public art project on the Wagner College campus. Students will survey the different forms of public art and their changing purpose throughout history to gain insight in contemporary trends; they will learn about who finances public art, how artists are selected, and who decides on the placement of art in the public realm. Students will learn how public art can become a solution for public advocacy and community service, especially for the non-profit sector. As the final project, the class will then identify needs and issues for students, faculty and staff on the Wagner College campus, and find remedies through the installation of a temporary public art project. Offered as required.

One unit. Figure and advanced painting. Students continue to explore issues of space, color and form with oil paint. Students will work in a variety of sizes and styles, focusing on recognizing and developing their own voice. At least half of the class is dedicated to studying directly from the model (figure painting). In-depth critiques are part of this class, as are occasional field trips to see paintings in Manhattan or New York City. Group work as well as non-representational painting will be explored. Prerequisite: AR 208. Offered every year.

One unit. The senior reflective tutorial culminates in the exhibition of students’ work and production of a written thesis. The experiential component will consist of students working independently in their studios to produce a body of art for public exhibit. During weekly informal group discussions, and three formal critiques, students will reflect on their experiences in the studio and share responses to each other’s work. Required of art majors in junior or senior year. Offered spring term only.


One unit. This course introduces students to the major periods, issues, and methodologies in the field of art history. While learning to analyze visually works of sculpture, painting, and architecture, students will also examine the changing functions of artworks, and the changing role of the artist throughout selected periods in history. Stylistic development will be explored in relation to the social, cultural, and political contexts in which the works were created. Topics include: art and archaeology; art and propaganda; art and its public; who decides? and problems in non-Western art. The course includes individual and group museum visits. Offered fall or spring semester.

One unit. This course is designed to introduce students to the diverse variety of ancient material culture around the world. We will examine the artifacts, architecture, and art of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Aegean, Mesoamerica, Africa, India, China and Far East Asia, Greece, Rome, Byzantium, and the Islamic world. The lectures will follow a geographical and chronological framework, examining each culture from the early formative periods (third millennium BC), through classical antiquity (Greece and Rome included), up through the medieval periods. Throughout the course we will move from one region to another, and back again, comparatively analyzing cultures as they develop and come into contact with one another. The goal of the course is to leave the students with a basic knowledge of ancient and non-western civilizations, as well as the ability to compare the ancients’ use of visual expression to our modern concepts of art and architecture, and an introductory knowledge of art historical and archaeological methodologies. This course will consist of class lectures, visits to various museum collections, and class discussion. 

One unit. This course explores the painting, sculpture and architecture of the 13th-16th centuries in Europe. Works of art are set into their religious, political, social and aesthetic context. The early weeks of the course focus heavily on Florence, but we also explore the art of the Renaissance in the North. The second part of the course looks at Baroque art in Italy, Spain, Flanders, and Holland. Throughout issues of patronage, iconography, artistic identity and the developments of new functions for works of art are examined. Artists studied include Giotto, Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Brunelleschi, Rubens, Velazquez, Bernini and Caravaggio.

One unit. From the mid-nineteenth century to WWII, visual artists in Europe overturned every existing rule and completely altered our understanding of what art is and what it could be. Although art was no longer a “mirror” of reality, these works profoundly reflected the enormous social, political, philosophical and scientific changes of the period. We will look at how the phenomena of Modernism, from the rise of the metropolis, to political Revolution, to changes in the concept of time, space, sexuality and human nature are revealed in the paintings, sculpture and architecture of the period. Movements to be studied include Impressionism, Symbolism, Expressionism, Futurism and Surrealism. We will come to an understanding of the period through readings, websites, films, presentations and first hand study of works in New York City Collections. Offered fall semester. Students who have taken AH112 may not receive credit for this course.

One unit. This course will survey the evolution of Western architecture from the prehistoric period to the present day. Students will be introduced to the basic language of architecture, as well as examining the social, political, economic, technological, and religious factors that have shaped the distinctive phases and styles of architecture throughout Western history.

One unit. In this course we look at a number of selected themes in American art and culture, examining how they have been explored in the past and continue to be explored in the 21stcentury. Rather than a typical chronological survey, each week we explore a topic that artists have returned to over and over again from colonial times to the present. We first examine the topic in an older period, and then how this theme or topic manifests itself in the present day. In this way, the art of the past becomes relevant to our own lives, and at the same time we see how the visual culture of today is rooted in ideas that have been around for as long as this nation has existed. While the first part of each pairing focuses on fine art (painting, sculpture and architecture) from the past,  the second part looks at visual artistic media from today including painting, photography, films, advertisements, blogs, installations etc. Topics include: Fashioning the Self in Portraiture; Art and Democracy; The “Demonized” Other in American Art; The Sacred Wilderness; Art and War; The Old Gilded Age and the New; The Gritty City; Inequalities: Art in the Depression; America as Shopping Mall: Art about Consumer Culture. Offered fall or spring semester.

One unit. Ancient Egypt is unique among ancient world civilizations; it contributed seminally to artistic expression in both the western and non-western worlds. This course examines the birth and development of ancient Egyptian culture by examining major monuments of architecture, sculpture, and painting from the Predynastic Period through the New Kingdom. It places the development of the powerful and sometimes enigmatic forms of Egyptian art in the context of the culture that created them, considering such factors as religion, politics, and philosophy. Students will engage the material through lectures, reading material, writing assignments, and museum trips. 

One unit. Islamic Art and Architecture is a field of study holding special relevance in today’s world. This course will cover the different periods of origin, early development and imperial climax of Islamic material culture through the Ottoman Empire (650-1800). The development of the visual world and material culture of Islam will be emphasized to the end that students will gain an understanding they can use to decipher the meanings and concepts inherent in that culture today. Various major regions of the ancient Islamic world will be covered: Central Asia, Iran, Iraq, Anatolia, Syria-Palestine, Egypt, North Africa (Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco), and Spain. Major monuments of Islamic architecture, sculpture, and painting will be explored as will the development of the powerful and sometimes enigmatic concepts of Islamic art within the context of the culture that created them, considering such factors as religion, politics, and philosophy. 

One unit. This course introduces students to contemporary thought and practice in the making, exhibiting and marketing of visual art. The display of art throughout history and its relation to and impact on society will be investigated. Through essays, class discussions and field trips to local galleries, museums and auction houses, students will explore the importance of context and presentation in how works of art are perceived by the public. Students will design and install an exhibit in the Wagner College Gallery. This course is ideal for any student interested in visual culture, the arts, history, or marketing. Offered spring or fall semester.

One unit. Modern day Greece is often cited as the birthplace of western civilization and religion. In this course we will examine this concept while surveying the art and architecture of the Bronze Age Aegean and Classical Greek civilizations. Students will learn about the material cultures of these civilizations through examinations of ceramics, sculpture, painting, and architecture. Minoan and Mycenaean palaces, Greek temples, bronze and marble sculptures of heroes, deities, and philosophers are but a few of the agencies of monumental expression covered in this course. This survey will touch upon issues relevant to the disciplines of Art History, Archaeology, History, Literature, and Religion. Students will engage the material through lectures, reading material, writing assignments, and museum trips. 

One unit. This course is a survey of the art of ancient Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq). The region between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers is known as the ‘Cradle of Civilization.’ The first urban societies, monumental architecture, written language, and complex empires are just a few of the innovations that appeared here. From the fourth to first millennium BCE Mesopotamia gave the world its first glimpse of advanced human civilization. Through incorporation of introductory texts and scholarly literature students will enjoy discovering the major issues confronted by Archaeologists, Anthropologists, Art Historians, and Linguists as they examine the culture of ancient Mesopotamia. Class sessions will consist of slide lectures, discussion of scholarly texts and museum trips. 

One unit. Expression of power has long been the focus of propaganda for rulers. Such expression is commonly manifest in visually stimulating architectural programs sponsored by such rulers. Cultures of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Minoan Crete, the Classical and Islamic worlds, were all fueled by rulers’ drive to impress and hold power over the population through visual persuasion. Visual persuasion and expression of power was conveyed through architecture, imagery, and organization and control of space. This course will examine the use and incorporation of visual expression in various ancient cultures through detailed analysis of a few specific monumental architectural complexes. Palaces and temples, and the objects found inside these buildings will be analyzed to determine how messages were conveyed to the audiences of the ancient world. A major component of this class is conducting a research project on a specific complex of monumental architecture. Students will also come away from this seminar a more active member of the visual world that surrounds them; the use of written expression is vital in consideration of our world today. 

One unit. All great civilizations have a story to tell; great Assyrian kings bragged about military feats, Mayan nobles watched as champion athletes played a lethal ball-game, Renaissance painters illuminated biblical stories. In this course we will examine how these stories and ‘historical’ events found a place in the visual artistic tradition of multiple civilizations. We will examine the written tradition of narrative, analyzing the construction of stories, and look at how various stories are told. We will compare these texts to visual representations of stories, and dissect the imagery to better understand modes of visual narrative. Multiple cultures, from multiple time periods will be examined, including but not limited to: Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Mesoamerica, China, Japan, the Islamic Middle East, the Byzantine world, and Renaissance Europe. This course meets the College requirements for an International Perspectives Requirement. Prerequisites: any other Art History course

One unit. The Assyrian Empire was one of the most powerful ancient civilizations, for a time holding sway over the entire region of the Ancient Near East. Ruling with great military might, the Assyrians constructed massive palatial complexes containing extraordinary narrative relief sculpture documenting their exploits. This class will examine these complexes, looking at the architecture, art, and writing that were integral parts of the buildings. Students will actively participate in critiquing various scholarly texts and objects from area museums and will be responsible for a series of writing projects dealing with these palaces and the context for which they were created. This course meets the College requirements for an International Perspectives Requirement. Prerequisites: any other Art History course.

One of the most murderous regimes in history, the Third Reich was also one of the most deeply invested in all areas of art and aesthetics. Beyond the realm of producing propaganda in every medium, from posters to film to processions, the Nazis stole or destroyed millions of works of art throughout Europe, planned the redesign of many major cities, held the most highly attended “art” exhibit ever held and attempted to control every facet of the visual arts. This course proposes that we cannot fully understand National Socialism without understanding the aesthetic ideology of the party and of Adolf Hitler and shows how “culture was not only the end to which power should aspire, but the means of achieving it.”

Topics to be explored include Hitler’s youth as a struggling painter in Vienna and his rejection from the Art Academy; the systematic expropriation of Jewish art collections and the works of foreign museums; Albert Speer’s plans for a newly designed Berlin; the 1937 Degenerate Art exhibit; the carefully designed parades, processions and rallies; and recent law cases to have stolen works of art restored to their rightful owners. The course ends with a look at memorials and museums dedicated to the Holocaust and ask whether it is possible for art, in any form, to illuminate one of the darkest chapters in human history.

One unit. No two artists have attracted a greater legend, or occupy a more important place in the public conscience than Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. Working at the end of the nineteenth century, both artists produced works of incredible expressive power, ambition and abstraction, that lead them to the threshold of modern art. This course explores the life and works of Van Gogh and Gauguin in great depth, separating fact from fiction and myth from reality. Our studies look at their origins, artistic training, major themes and subjects, techniques, and their journeys both inward and outward. While setting their art against the culture, politics and religious beliefs of the nineteenth century, we explore the individual achievements and artistic vision of each. We will learn about these artists through readings, discussions, research, films and first hand examination of works in New York City collections.


One unit. This course explores the relationship between gender and the visual arts, concentrating on representation of women throughout history, as well as the work of women artists. Issues of gender are examined in relation to subject matter, stylistic preference, media, reception and criticism. Issues and topics to be explored include: sexual identity in artistic production; gender, race and art; queer theory in relation to the visual arts, post-colonialism and gender, themes of motherhood, prostitution and the female body; constructions of masculinity; the gaze and the gendering of vision. We begin in the Middle Ages and continue up through the work of contemporary artists in all media including painting, sculpture, installation, photography, architecture and cinema. We will learn about these issues through seminar discussion, readings, films and first-hand viewing of works of art. Prerequisite: any art history or gender studies course.

One unit. The art of the middle ages continues to enchant, inspire and move us. This course examines the full range of artistic production in the medieval period, from the fall of the Roman Empire, to the to the high Gothic period. We attempt to get a better understanding of what life was like in Middle Ages by studying the architecture, sculpture, stained glass, manuscripts, paintings, tapestries, reliquaries, and icons produced during the era.  We range from the British Isles and central Europe to the eastern reaches of the Byzantine Empire and growing Muslim territories, and look at early Christian, barbarian, Byzantine, Carolingian, Ottonian, Romanesque, and Gothic periods. Works of art are examined against the social, political, and economic events of the time, from the founding of monasteries, to the Crusades, to the rise of chivalry and world, from nineteenth century paintings to recent films. Offered as required

Paris, Vienna, Berlin, and Barcelona. (I) One unit. This course focuses on art in the fin-de-siècle in four major cosmopolitan centers: Paris, Vienna, Berlin, and Barcelona, with occasional stops in Belgium, Norway, and England. Styles discussed include Expressionism, Symbolism, Post-Impressionism, Art Nouveau, and Jugendstil. The art of the period is explored in relation to issues of national identity c. 1900 and as a response to the shock of metropolitan life, a phenomenon experienced by artists in all four cities. These issues include attitudes toward sexuality, the rise of the crowd, alienation, the impact of psychoanalysis, escapism, and the withdrawal to the interior. We will also study the interrelation between paintings, sculpture, architecture, design, and the popular arts in this period. The course attempts to understand better the shared visual language of turn-of-the-century Europe, while illuminating the special contributions and characteristics of the art of each city. Offered as required.

One unit. A portrait is often thought of as a visual, naturalistic representation of an individual. However, this is only one definition. In this course, we will examine the concept of portraiture: what is a portrait?

Does it have to portray the likeness of a person? Can a portrait contain other types of imagery? How does written text relate to visual portraiture? How is a portrait of a Mayan Lord different from that of a Japanese Samurai? How does a portrait of an Egyptian Pharaoh differ from a portrait of Andy Warhol? We will survey ‘portraits’ of individuals.

One unit. This course familiarize students with contemporary art practice, debates in art theory and criticism and the most important issues facing the artist today.

We will examine the work of diverse artists in the context of larger social, political, economic and aesthetic issues. In addition, we will look at issues such as the role of the museum today, censorship and the impact of the internet on contemporary art making. The works of important contemporary critics and theorists are explored.